Vaal River clean-up operations have been brought to an abrupt standstill following a hijacking and hostage horror of ERWAT employees executing the project. Disgruntled community members took hostage the employees demanding employment. ERWAT responded by withdrawing their employees plunging the operation into crisis.
ERWAT MD, Tumelo Gopane confirmed that operations at Vaal river have been suspended adding that the safety of ERWAT employees and locally-recruited contractor colleagues working on the Vaal project was a priority to his company.
“The safety of our ERWAT employees and our
contractor colleagues – mostly recruited from the Vaal – is our utmost priority
and work has been stopped until appropriate engagement with community elements
and other stakeholders has taken place to find a workable solution,” said
There are however no reported injuries to the employees who were taken hostage. Progress registered since the clean-up started in December has been reversed. Any other cleaning-up efforts will have to start from zero.
“It is really important that we get the truth out there far and wide – that holding up of the rehabilitation of the sewer infrastructure in the Vaal area is directly damaging the economic well-being of all Emfuleni’s residents,” said Rosemary Cloete-Anderson, Water and Sanitation Spokesperson of the Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce (GTCoC). The Vaal River Intervention Project, was taken over by ERWAT in December 2019 from the SA Army and Gopane committed to employ the local people. NOTES: Put a picture of the Vaal River to accompany story